The irony is almost too much to take. One month after EU politicians patted themselves on the back for helping Ukraine become a ‘free, democratic country’, the very same politicians tried to clamp down on free, democratic debate about what has happened in Ukraine.
At the European Parliament they’ve been putting together a resolution on the Crimea crisis for MEPs to vote on. And an odd coalition of Green and conservative MEPs, who are normally rivals, got together to suggest adding a line to the resolution that would both chastise and potentially even censor Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany.
The proposed additional text said: ‘The European Parliament regrets statements made by former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder about the crisis in Ukraine, and suggests he should make no public statements about [this issue].’
No public statements about Russia or Ukraine? Upon what authority does the European Parliament think it can prevent any private citizen of Europe – whether it’s Schröder or some non-political mortal – from talking about one of the big issues of our time? The European Parliament’s agitation at Schröder, who has questioned European politicians’ posturing over Ukraine, even saying the EU made some ‘initial mistakes’ in how it dealt with the crisis, gives the lie to the idea that the inhabitants of Brussels are big fans of freedom or democracy.
The proponents of the Schröder-slamming resolution said they want him to stop talking publicly about Ukraine and Russia because he has a ‘clear conflict of interest’ on this matter. ‘[H]is relationship with Gazprom, a company that is one of Russia’s most important foreign-policy instruments’, has compromised him politically, they said.